His Calling

Guest Post by Mrs. Maggie Garcia

Do you ever ask yourself, “What is God’s purpose for my life?” I don’t know about you, but I often find myself thinking about this question as a fresh college graduate diving into the world as an adult headfirst. I question why God would want me to move 1,000 miles away from everything that I am familiar with. My husband is a new pastor and my role as his wife is to support him and serve the church. This sounds so simple and pure, but some may see it as “not enough” or even meaningless in today’s world.

But here’s the thing, our purpose as Christ followers is to be obedient and follow His calling. It is to keep our eyes on Him, even when we feel less than the next person who appears to be doing “big things” in this life. It is so easy to get caught up on the highlight reels we see on social media of some celebrity or influencer living your earthly dream. 

God’s purpose for our lives may not always be clear, but focus on this verse:

“The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He” Deuteronomy 32:4. 

The Lord has a purpose and plan for each and every one of us while we roam this earth, whether that means you are a world renown surgeon, or a stay at home mom. Whatever that temporary role may be, it is perfectly aligned with God’s perfect plan. The Lord remains sovereign no matter what our circumstances may be at any given time. 

Here are a few points to consider when pondering your God-given purpose:

1.     Validation can be found in Christ who died for our sins. 

2.     Set your mind on a heavenly inheritance that is to come. 

3. Value and recognize the work God has done in your life.

Choose Positive.

I don’t know why I’m about to write this. Honestly, it just shows how weird my thought process is. I can already see my sisters shaking their heads and smiling.

Yet here I go.

I love chocolate covered peanuts from Buccees. They’re my fav. However, it never fails that inside of every single bag there is at least one weird tasting peanut. Y’all know what I’m talking about? You bite into it, and it’s just not right – almost sour. You know it’s coming, but it’s still a surprise.

But guess what – I’m not gonna stop buying those peanuts. Like I said they are my favorite. The way I see it is there’s a whole bag of delicious, mouthwatering chocolate covered peanuts – at least a hundred – and usually just one weird tasting one. I’m not gonna let the one outdo the 100.

I said all of that to say this – don’t let one sour Christian turn you away from God. Don’t let one rotten person make you lose your faith in all humankind.

Look around you – there’s goodness everywhere.

Cling to that good.

Choose to see the positive.

Choose hope.

And if you’ve never gone to Buccees you need to make that a priority.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:1-2

Cancel Culture

Guest Post by Deanna Opheim

The Origin of Cancel Culture: The Woman caught in Adultery

Can we talk about cancel culture for a minute? One of the biggest buzz words that birthed out of 2020 originated from mobs on the internet deeming human beings as “void” all while behind their keyboards. Essentially, we just unsubscribe to their existence and ensure they lose all streams of income, relationships, and respect. Seems on par for the year we had, huh? Can we really talk about this, like, dissect it for a minute? Let’s start from the beginning.

If you are familiar with your bible you may have heard the verse that says, “there is nothing new under sun”, Ecclesiates 1:9. This is true. The enemy is not that smart, he uses the same old tricks and veneers them in different ways. One of the very first victims of cancel culture was the woman caught in adultery found in John 8:1-11 (if you have time, pause here and go read it, it’s only 11 verses).

It is stunning how similar this story plays out compared to recent victims we have read about over the past year. The accusers did not have Instagram 2000 years ago, but they sure didn’t have a problem getting a crowd revved up ready to cast their stones. Also, why wasn’t her accomplice tried with her? Interesting.

Here we have Pharisees, accompanied by a mob, dragging this woman to Jesus, wanting permission to stone her because of her sin. Jesus spoke and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Now that’s a clap back!  Not only did he say that, but he also went on to write something unknown in the sand. Whatever he wrote hit hard, because after they processed what he said, and read what he wrote, they dropped their stones and walked away, one by one.

Do you ever imagine what Jesus wrote there? I do, and every time I read this story, I come up with something new. What if he wrote, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” or “where sin abounds my grace abounds much more”. Today I like to think he wrote, “you don’t get to cancel people, only I have the power to do that.”

The truth is, cancel culture stems from a spirit of division and self-righteousness. If we really adhere to the laws of cancel culture every single one of us would be canceled.

But God! Because of God’s great love for us, while we were still sinners, He is rich in mercy and made us alive in Him and saved us by grace (this is where we stop and praise dance). We no longer are canceled; therefore, we do not cancel others. Jesus got canceled too, you know. On the cross, by a mob. We killed a perfect man, the Son of God, who did no wrong. Because of that day, we now live in Him forever. Because of that day, we extend the same grace he extended to us to others. You and I are the best candidates to be canceled, but God stepped in and the mob dropped their stones. Remember this, reflect on this. Let’s be the change in this new trend. Let’s show grace and drop our stones.

Barren Places

Guest Post by Mrs. Brandi Stutts

On February 28, 2021 I will turn 40 years old. More often than not, I find myself asking “Am I too old for this?” When I’m shopping for clothes, and even shoes, I may try on the “oh, so cute top or bottom” and then that’s when the question runs thru my head “Brandi, are you too old?” In much the same way a similar question daunts me when God asks me to do something for Him. “Are you done with me?” or “Am I good enough?”

I think of my age and all the things I’ve been able to do for the Lord in my life. I’m not old, but my body definitely makes me aware that I’m not young anymore. I’ve sat under some wonderful preachers and teachers. My husband and I were over the youth at our church for 16+ years. We’ve attended Youth Worker’s Conference, been to Youth Camp, taken students to Youth Conference, taught so many Bible studies on Wednesday nights, attended Leadership Classes and I’m sure there’s something I’m missing somewhere, but you get my point. God has used me.

I’ve been blessed to be part of God’s ministry, but just over 2 years ago we resigned being over the youth. It was time to do this. I will mention during that year my one and only child graduated high school, and I also gave up singing with our worship team. I came to a halt in every part of my life, except my public job. I came to a place in my life where I felt barren.

“But Sarai was barren, she had no child.” Genesis 11:30

I think of Sarai when she was barren. She wanted a child to take care of and tend to. A child could carry Abraham’s name on. She wanted something that made her feel needed and necessary. I know when you read the story in the Bible it seems like there was a lot of drama going on in this story, but she had a desire and felt like circumstances were all wrong for it to come to pass for her.

As a Christian we sometimes run across barren times in our lives and we want to feel needed and necessary. Instead, we feel empty and the circumstances around us make us feel like our time is up. I know sometimes when God gives me a small task of being a witness to someone or teaching at a different place, after I’m done with the work He gave me, I tell myself “ok, that’s done”. As if that’s all for me, I’m just going to go fall in a black hole in the Earth because God is done, and He has no more for me to do for Him.

Just like God had plans for Sarai I realize there’s so much work to be done and when God says something is going to happen, even if we are walking in a barren place in life, it’s going to happen. In Genesis 21:2 it reads “For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.” So even though my age or whatever circumstance I may be facing may not fit into the way I think things should be, I have to trust that God has a time and place for things to happen and there is always going to be things for me to do to further His ministry.

Not long after God gave me this opportunity with Rays of Sunshine and then gave me the word barren, one of our Sunday School lessons at church allowed me to run across another scripture. In Isaiah 54:1-3 it reads: “Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord. Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings. Do not spare; Lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. “For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited.

There’s more for us to do so open your doors up for God to use you again. I know this to be true because not long after I gave up everything in ministry, I moved into teaching the Adult Sunday School class at church and I’ve also found new “endeavors” (as some have labeled them) with my public job, that I’m interested in stepping into soon. I’m spreading my table more and adding more chairs for the work God has for me. Even when you walk through the barren seasons in life, God’s not done with you!

You Must.

Guest Post by Mrs. Kylie Lyday

What keeps us from loving God and loving others the way we should?

Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT)

“Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I love how Jesus’ words in this scripture simply say “you must”. We do not have a choice.

That’s deep.

But what does it truly mean? I’m talking about loving the Lord with ALL of your heart, soul, and mind. It means every part of you is for him. This is not something to take lightly. We do this by giving up the life we want and seeking the one He wants for us. We have to allow our heart to truly beat for Him. Our mind also belongs to Him – not this world. We must sacrifice our personal wants, desires, and ways of this world the way He sacrificed his own life for us.

– It’s guarding your heart with His armor and strength.

– It’s allowing Him to work through you.

– It’s not allowing your mind to be filled with the worry, hurt, sins of this world but His truth only.

– It’s not trying to figure it all out on our own. But finding peace with where He has us. (Matthew 5:9)

Finally, if you’re going to love yourself, you have to see it through the Father’s eyes. If we’re going to love the person that cut us off in morning traffic, beat us to the front of the line, or let us down when we were counting on them, we’re going to have to see them through the Father’s eyes. Patient and forgiving. He is sufficient for what we need to live out his commands.

We must realize this. We must.

Washed

We all have a past.

Hallelujah.

It’s what we choose to do with that past that matters.

Will we continue to waller around in that mud, or are we gonna step on out of that mess and let God hose us off?

It’s our choice.

Jesus died for us. He took all of our dirty and hung it on the cross. Don’t let His death go in vain.

Be cleansed.

Be washed.

Be made whole.

🎶 Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you washed in the blood? In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?🎶

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” John 1:9

The Search for Significance

Guest Post by Mrs. Abby Dubois

There have been times in my life when I have felt small, had a sense of loneliness, and even questioned my own worth.

I would turn to look at what other women were accomplishing in their lives, the work they were doing for the Kingdom, and would compare the opportunities they were getting to my own.

This habit that I formed became nothing more than a trap. Measuring my value through my accomplishments made me feel forgotten.

As I read Isaiah 49:16, “Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me,” I am filled with hope. The Lord spoke to Israel in a time when they felt forgotten and ignored during their exile in Babylon (Isaiah 40:27).

The Lord reminds them in this verse that He had never withdrawn Himself from them. He was always with them and never left them. They weren’t forgotten and they weren’t neglected.

The Lord speaks these same things to us today. We are never alone. Even in the times we are off searching for our significance, He is with us. We have a Father who says He “will go with you, [He] will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

As I reflect back on Psalms 7-8, I see the moments where David, too, searched for his significance. He questioned his place, but he also reminded himself of his loving Creator.

We are all designed uniquely for a specific purpose by our Heavenly Father. We reveal the existence of God every day and point others to His love. When we begin to search for significance or compare our purpose in life to those around us, we must remember who we are in Jesus Christ. We are His treasured possession (Deuteronomy 14:2).

Isn’t that such an amazing truth? You were created for a specific purpose; and God uniquely designed you to reveal His glory and show others His love. You matter to Him! The God of love created you and said He will never leave you!

“So run the race that is set before you and keep your eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2). The race is hard, it can be full of comparison, searching for significance, questioning our value, and so many other obstacles that try to knock us off course.

We would never be able to endure the race on our own. We simply are not strong enough to carry all of this weight. But the race is already won by Jesus Christ. He already endured the pain so we wouldn’t have to.

Give thanks this morning to the Lord that He created YOU for a specific purpose, that we get to walk each and every day and share His love with others, that He will never leave you nor forsake you, and that you never have to run this race alone.

Smart & Sweet

Mean mommas oftentimes create mini-me versions of themselves. I don’t know how else to say it.

Empowering other women is a huge topic lately – as it should be. However, if we are truly here to empower other women then we need to model that behavior for our daughters – in public and in privacy.

It starts at home, y’all.

In retrospect, what’s done in the privacy of your own home – isn’t really private. After all, Alexa is listening to our every word.

This is actually where the rubber meets the road. It’s where the real us can really be us.

And who do we really want to be when no one else is watching but our daughter?

I want to be a strong, Jesus-loving, Bible-toting, verse-slanging, Holy Ghost filled woman that exudes love and grace in everything she says and does. That’s a tough feat – I know. But if we are gonna have goals shouldn’t that be the one to have?

▪️Strong mommas hold their tongues.

▪️Strong mommas often keep their opinion to themselves – because that’s what it is – an opinion.

▪️Strong mommas pay the compliment.

▪️Strong mommas don’t have any room for jealousy because they are filled with Jesus.

▪️Strong mommas lift other women up.

▪️Strong mommas don’t spew ugly.

▪️Strong mommas point their babies toward Jesus.

I want to raise a young lady that fights for justice and loves like Jesus. A girl that’s strong and sweet. A girl that’s brave and benevolent.

So when the door is shut and the blinds are closed and it’s just my little family – I’ll be trying my best to do just that. Lifting others up and leading my little family to Jesus. It’s my greatest calling. It’s my greatest goal.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

Christ be Magnified

The following song has been playing in my mind on repeat for well over a week.

🎶Oh! Christ be magnified

From the altar of my life

Christ be magnified in me🎶

I’ve always had pretty janky eyesight. So when I had the opportunity to look through a magnifying glass in third grade science my mind was seriously blown. That teeny tiny seed we were examining was all of a sudden huge. I could see every single detail. In fact, I could focus on it so well that I did not want to give the magnifying glass back to my partner. Sorry Derek.

In a world that would love to skew our vision, what things are we intentionally focusing on? What things are we making “big”?

Is Christ the biggest focus in our life?

Are we truly honing in on Him in every step We take and decision that we make?

The thing about magnifying something is that the proximity from that object to yourself doesn’t change, just your perspective does.

How far away are we keeping Christ?

At an arm’s length?

Or as close to us as possible?

One last question: If the world put a magnifying glass on our words, actions, thoughts, and even our faith, what would be glaring back at them?

“O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.” Psalms 34:3

Supernatural Synchronicities

Supernatural Synchronicities, as described by Mark Batterson in The Grave Robber, are those moments in our life when God puts us in the right place at the right time, seemingly with no connection to the person, situation, or place where the “synchronicity” took place. Another name for this might be a miracle or that moment when you encounter a “coincidence” that you can only explain as God did this. These supernatural events cannot be created by man but can only be created by God. It is our duty as followers of Christ to say yes when God calls us.

Some may be thinking, how do I become a part of God’s miracles, or how do I know if I am doing what God intended? The answer is simple—you must talk to God and learn to love like God loves us. A specific example Mark gives to “get in the miracle game”, is performing acts of kindness for strangers. When we learn to love like God, we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives and that’s when we truly see God. Galatians 6:9-10 reminds us, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

In Sunday School Brother Larry Staggs taught me that it is always important to not halt God’s plan as He uses us to fulfill His plan. While we may not necessarily comprehend what God can do, we know that his plan is perfect and He is in control. This was often in response to fear that I would have with teaching certain subject matter, anxiety of teaching others with much more knowledge than me, giving, or just living in general.

When Daisy asked me to write for Rays of Sunshine a lot of those same fears arose. For those that know me well, putting my business out on the Internet is way out of my comfort zone. But after several nudges by God, I said yes.

After coming to my senses and understanding that I’ve got a call to answer, my first thought was about the little boy who gave Jesus his loaves of bread and fish to feed the multitudes. What if that child decided not to hand over his day’s work? I’m sure if he knew what was about to happen, he would have handed it over without question. However, the Lord doesn’t work that way, so that child made a donation out of faith and with a servant’s heart. What seemed like such a small gift from an ordinary child with just a little bit of faith, ended up with Jesus transforming the child into a superhero. That child’s gift keeps on giving still today. We never know the boy’s name, but does that make his impact any less special? I try to think of this story when I give, as I may never know if my gift made an impact, but I know that God can do more with it than I could by myself. I also don’t know what He’s going to do with it, and I’m ok with that—He’s got a plan and it’s perfect.

When Daisy first started this non-profit it hit close to home. I would tell her, do what you got to do, just don’t tell me how much it costs us! Growing up in South Carolina, we didn’t have much money. My dad was a welder, and as many that are in that field know, it’s either feast or famine when it comes to work. Periods of sustained work history were often met with long periods of unemployment. Often, my family and I received support from schools, churches, and charities such as Rays of Sunshine Inc. Today, I want to share a story of how a single donation impacted me and how God plants seeds in our lives.

For those that know me, you know I’m a huge basketball fan—coach it, play it, watch it, or talk it—I can’t get enough! I was able to trace that love back to a time when my mom and I went to the arcade and played basketball. Let’s just say, I was destroyed that day. My mom won so many tickets, had the buzzer go off for high score, and she did it all by using the backboard (a la Tim Duncan)! That love for basketball would grow, and eventually we found an area in our yard that was covered in shade by a dogwood tree that would become my basketball court. The ground was relatively flat and grass-covered, there was a large root going right through the middle of the court, and the tree was curved—but it was perfect for me. I didn’t have a basketball at first, so I would take socks, a duct tape ball, anything roundish, and I would do layups up against that dogwood tree with a small circle that I drew on the trunk with chalk. After some time, my Dad nailed up a piece of plywood and a rim that was given to him to make a basketball goal. My brothers and I eventually wore down that backboard until we were once again shooting off the tree. I have several fond memories of the games out there, both against friends & family, and the imaginary games against ACC opponents in my head!

One day, my mom asked me for my shoe size and if there were a certain pair of shoes I wanted. We had fallen on some hard times, but luckily there was a local charity that was going to donate shoes and other clothing items to us. This was right around the time of the Reebok Pumps (for my sneakerheads out there) and I wanted them so badly! However, I couldn’t bring myself to ask for them, so I settled on a pair of high-top white Reeboks that I could wear everywhere. I loved those shoes! It was very important that I took care of them because someone gave them to me. Now I felt & looked like a real basketball player. While they didn’t make me jump higher or run faster, they led to a release from stress, a sense of pride I didn’t previously have, they gave me confidence to play the game I loved, the confidence to try out for the team, and the courage to strive for more.

When you are in the moment, it is often hard to see or appreciate God’s work at hand. As I reflect now, love from “my community” and a small act of kindness had a profound impact on my life. Had God’s calls not been answered by those generous strangers, would I be telling the same story today?

I would love to say that my story results in me becoming a basketball superstar. In all actuality, even with my new “kicks” I didn’t even make the team the first year I tried out. The gift however did lead to confidence, which led to courage to try out for the team in the first place. Trying out was the first time I said I want something more and I’m going to have to work hard to get it. It was also a realization nothing worth having will just be handed to me and I can’t blame my circumstances for what I don’t have. I made the team the next year and my confidence and courage continued to grow more and more as I got older.

Basketball has continued to be a large part of my life and that love has transferred over to my children. I’ve coached a lot of kids and have so many fond memories and friendships from these experiences. It’s allowed me to play for some outstanding basketball coaches and afforded me the opportunity to meet even more outstanding coaches that were positive role models and showed me a righteous path. Basketball has given me opportunities to share God with people, mentor others, and even learn skills to improve my career. It has made me strive to be a positive role model to many. While I’m sure the charity that gave me that pair of shoes thought they were helping one child for a season, they didn’t know God’s plan and how He was going to multiply that gift.

When you give with love in your heart it may just be meeting a need for that moment, but it could just be the gift that changes the trajectory of one or more people’s lives. You will not get the glory, that’s just for God. God will call on you with an opportunity to help fulfill his plan and you don’t want to miss that call when it comes!

In closing, I hope you takeaway these messages:

1) God has a plan and it is perfect. It is not our job to understand it, it is our job to be vessels to fulfill his plan. Also, answer God’s call—do not hit “Ignore!” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

2) Love your neighbor like God loves you. (Mark 12:31)

3) A small act of kindness or a prayer can open the door to “Supernatural Synchronicities.” While you may never get to see the plan fulfilled or even your prayer answered in your lifetime, God promises to us that he answers every one of our prayers and we will be blessed for doing his work! (John 14:13 & Luke 6:38—to name a few)

Here’s my question to you? What random act of kindness did you receive that made an impact on your life? Share your story!

Thanks, Daisy, for asking me to share and as always, I adore you!